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Route du Vin and Colmar

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Jan 1st, 2016, 05:17 PM
  #1
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Route du Vin and Colmar

Hello,

Starting to pin down our plans for our Easter 2016 weekend in Colmar and would appreciate some guidance. We arrive on 23 March midday and leave early morning on Easter Monday, 28 March.

Unless advised otherwise by Fodor experts we plan on spending one day exploring Colmar including the Easter markets, have hired a car for 2 days to do the Route du Vin and have a day in hand to go to Strasbourg by train (ambivalent about this). For our 2 days car exploring I have spent hours pouring over maps and have a north route from Colmar planned for one day and a south route for the other. We have friends from Australia joining us for one of the car exploring days.

Help needed:
For our friends would you recommend they join us for the South or North route day ?
Do you have any recommendations for which days we should use for our exploring?
I am worried everything will be closed for some or all of the Easter weekend - we don't need shops but would like to try wine and eat in inns (not fancy restaurants - recommendations appreciated). I am assuming it would be good to use Thursday, 24 March as one of the exploring days.
Recommendation for which day over the Easter weekend is best for the Easter markets.

Thank you for your help.

Jinz
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Jan 1st, 2016, 05:56 PM
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IMHO while Colmar is a charming small town you are giving Strasbourg very short shrift. It has way more to see and do and a large number of very good restaurants. Unless you have been there before and seen the major sights I would give it at least 2 full days.

Caveat: We both want to see every cathedral, museum and castle that possibly fits into our time. And while we enjoy the countryside and small towns we really adore the activity of cities.
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Jan 1st, 2016, 07:02 PM
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Hi nytraveler,

Thank you for replying. While we don't mind a couple of cities when we travel (we will be spending time in Vienna, Munich, etc) we prefer the small villages, countryside and generally absorbing local life outside. We also collect wine - hence the time allocation around Colmar.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 01:50 AM
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I would do two loop drives:

1. From Colmar to Wettolsheim, Eguisheim (for me, the most picturesque village in Alsace), Husseren-les-Chateaux, Gueberschwihr (very authentic and charming), Pfaffenheim, Rouffach (more a small town than a village, also very picturesque). Then to the Ecomusée (open-air farmhouse museum) near Ungersheim. Then drive into the mountains. If you want to see an impressive WWI site, stop at the Vieil Armand. Drive back on the Route de Crète through the mountains to Colmar. This route is not very long, but offers a multitude of interesting sights and attractions - you will not be able to see everything (at least in detail).

2. From Colmar to Kaysersberg, Riquewihr (very picturesq, yet touristy), Ribeauville, Thannenkirch to Haut-Koenigsbourg (very impressive castle). Again, drive into the mountains and see the three small lakes Lac Blanc, Lac Noir and Lac Vert and why they are named after colours.

Can't really say which route is better - both are very beautiful and offer a lot of sights.

After reading your preferences, you will probably like Colmar more than Strasbourg.

For opening hours of caves in the region north of Colmar, look here:

http://www.ribeauville-riquewihr.com...ne-growers.htm

Since Easter is a vey popular day to eat out in a restaurant, it is strongly advised to make reservations.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 06:53 AM
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good advice above.

You'll find the route du vin slow moving and with a fair bunch of coaches working their way along the narrow road. The roads into the Vosges mountains can be a bit better but of course lack the vinyards and some of the charm.

I prefer the southern route for the quality of the wine (a bit of a generalisation but it works for me). The Ballon d'alsace is worth driving up to if a clear day as the view to Mont Blanc can be startling.

Whichever route you take, get out in the vinyards themselves, you'll find bike/foot paths just off the route du vin

Book restaurants at this time.

If you are collecting wine I could recommend a few wineries, maybe Bruno Sorg (both Sorgs speak good english) in Equisheim is pretty famous and still good value, Materne Haeglin a bit further south is a bit special being a women managed business for a few generations now and the present generation speaks good English though the elder Madame does not. You'll find the larger places will have hired in multilingual guides which includes the coops. You'll also find that a few of the more expensive producers are beginning to rest on their laurels and just charging more than the wines deserve.

When I first started tasting in this area (more years ago than I care to remember) the Gewurtz were the things I focused on, as my pallet has changed I now seek out the Pinot Blanc and Gris. I see the Rieslings selling to the Germans but I struggle to buy much. I seldom buy from Grand Cru fields but if the wallet is stuffed I might give in and I now find some of the very sweet wines in the E40+ area just too sweet for me.

You will find some of the smaller bars/restaurants able to offer you some pretty old wines for very little. Generally (there I go again) the French don't like old wines while I do, up to you I guess. So look at the list carefully and you'll find great wines 10 years old hidden away.

The local Tourist Info used to publish a "Independent wine visitors list" but i suspect the larger producers have helped nudge it off the shelves ;-)

I'd struggle to give Colmar more than half a day while Strasbourg is worth a whole day, the canal area is worth some time as is that around the cathedral. There are also some WW1 fortifications in the area if that floats your boat.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 07:57 AM
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Great information and discussion. We will return this year and appreciate all the 'intel'. Restaurant info and experiences would be appreciated as well.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 10:59 AM
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 11:18 AM
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A few words about Alsacian wines:

Usually, Alsacian wines are single grapes, with one exception:

- Edelzwicker is a mixture of several grapes, containing 50% of better ("edel") grapes. Usually the cheapest wine, but great together with rustic dishes like onion tart.

- Sylvaner is usually a light, fruity wine, yet aromatic. Also good value for money.

- Pinot Blanc is "steely", as we call it, dry, crisp and clear. Perfect with seafood.

- Pinot Gris or Tokay d'Alsace is more aromatic than Pinot Blanc.

- Riesling is the king of Alsacian wines, very elegant, dry, with citrus flavours. Most wineries offer different qualities of rieslings, from simple ones to Grand Crus. The Grand Crus tend to be heavier and more flavourful, however I personally prefer the simpler ones. But each winery is different, so try and taste.

- Gewurztraminer is an extremely flavourful grape. It harmonizes perfectly with foie gras. Half bottles are advisable since you drink only small quantities of this very heavy wine.

- Pinot Noir is a red wine, but actually, compared to real reds of more southern regions, it is more like a rosé. Try and see if you like it.

Besides the wines, Alsace is strong in fruit schnapps (eau de vie). Many wineries have dozens of varieties, like kirsch (cherry), apple, pear, blue plum, yellow plum, quince, rose hip, alderberry etc.

Raspberries are so expensive that raspberry schnapps is usually pure alcohol infused with raspberry. But sometimes you get 100% raspberry schnapps, but be prepared to pay 100€ or more per bottle for this rarity.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 11:19 AM
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I forgot to mention the "marc". It is like "grappa" in Italy. You may like it or not. In any case, it is very cheap because it is made of waste.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 11:30 AM
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bmk as well.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 11:58 AM
  #11
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Happy New Year Everyone.

Thank you so much for all this really helpful advice. I have marked the wineries on the map.

We do love searching out the old wines so the tip is appreciated. Must say our tastes have changed too and we find ourselves enjoying good Pinots - red and white. As we live and work both in NZ and Australia we have had many a happy time tasting the differences. We are really looking forward to our first French experience.

New Zealand customs is generous and we are allowed to bring in 6 bottles each so we will have a lot of fun choosing.

My husband is avidly interested in WW historical sites so this will definitely be on the plan.

I would appreciate some restaurant/local food recommendations so I can make the bookings.
For lunch do any of the wineries recommended do platters or other kinds of lunches?

Thank you again - our trip will be so much better for all the insider advice.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 01:07 PM
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<< We also collect wine - hence the time allocation around Colmar.>>

But you don't have to be "around Colmar" to get or taste any of the Alsatian wines.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 02:43 PM
  #13
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True you can taste or buy wines elsewhere but part of our hobby is to visit and walk around vineyards around the world. We have a big map on our study wall where we track where we have been. It adds to the fun when we drink the wine at home to think back to our experiences of meeting the people of the region and seeing the vineyards too.

Part of this trip is to spend a week with our friends who live in the Dordogne area trying the South West France wines.

Sandwiched between we will be enjoying the snow and Engadine area.

We end our trip with exploring the wine areas in the Rhine Valley, Germany.

Getting very excited.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 02:50 PM
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<>

I live here in the Dordogne. You should get yourselves to our friend Patrick's vineyard, the Château de Mazivert, near Bergerac.

Sounds like a great trip!
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Jan 3rd, 2016, 08:55 PM
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Bilbo, any names on the very sweet €40 (or any other price) wines that you now find too sweet? I tend to like very sweet wines and have not had tremendous luck finding them. I would appreciate any specific details.

Thanks,
Mrs. ImaginaryJazz
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Jan 4th, 2016, 12:11 AM
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Ok, the guy you want is Mure (accent on the e), his outfit is down on the dual carriage way at Ribeauville. He does, probably the best PN in the area in his top brand. He stopped for a bit because it isn't fantastic (after all it is Alsace and a bit far north) but he had to bring it back under pressure from customers), his great sweets range E45 to E70 and you need to taste because they are huge.

Needless to say there are many other great wineries (as you would say) but Mure is certainly one of the-men.

Materne Haeglin (mentioned already) have two late harvest wines names after daughters Elise and ????? both very good value and are just up the road. Since you'll be here go visit Schlumberger (distant relations of the oil company) in Guebewiller (sorry if the spelling is a bit off) but a bit further south from Mure. Their Prince Abbee (actually it might be Princess but hey) are a good base level wine but they also do some great stuff in the upper price bands.
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Jan 4th, 2016, 12:31 AM
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StCirq we will definitely visit Château de Mazivert. Thank you for the tip. All marked on our calendar.

Is anyone able to advise us if the wineries will be open over the Easter weekend? We are really keen to visit the ones recommended here - we will be on the hunt for some good whites! We have hired a car for the whole weekend and it looks like everything is close to Colmar.

Also hoping for some ideas for lunch - or should we pack a picnic?

Thank you again for the help.
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Jan 4th, 2016, 12:37 AM
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open over the weekend, need to check each website. Here is one to start you off
http://www.mure.com/en/
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Jan 4th, 2016, 01:46 AM
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Down near Bergerac you should also pop into the Chateau Montbazillac in the village of the same name. You will find sweeties there of some age that seem to only stay in France. Great with blue cheese.

There are two restaurants in town, the michelin starred posh one and one that looks like a house in a garden. Go for this second one and you will find that the lady who runs this restaurant "est tres gentile"
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Jan 4th, 2016, 02:09 AM
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I would be very surprised if the Château de Mazivert or any other private winery would be open over Easter.
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